by Megan, Ozbo Editorial Director
Often times, it’s the first impression that counts. The outside of your home sends a message to visitors, neighbors and even the pizza delivery guy – but it might not necessarily be the one you want.
Whether you’re prepping your home to sell on the market or simply trying to keep up with the Jones’, we’ve come up with ten simple ways to boost your casa’s curb appeal without breaking the bank.
1. Gather Your Gang and Clean Up // 2. Dress Things Up With a Decorative Border // 3. Let There Be Light // 4. Create a Whimsical Windowsill // 5. Freshen Up Your Front Door with Color // 6. Out With the Old (Hardware), In With the New // 7. Give Your Mailbox a Makeover // 8. Show Your Flower Power // 9. Save Your Driveway from Distress // 10. Add an Eye-catching Element
Gather Your Gang and Clean Up!
Grab that lawnmower and cut the grass, pick up dead branches, pull dying or dead plants, trim the shrubs, edge, weed, clean mold and mildew from siding and walkways, and store tools and children’s toys in your shed or garage.
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Dress Things Up With a Decorative Border
Installing a pretty border is the perfect way to draw attention to a flower bed, garden or landscaped area. Accent borders not only look great in your yard, they helps keeps critters out too. Ozbo carries a wide selection of garden borders in various materials to suit your style, from realistic stone to weather-proof vinyl to classic steel. (Item shown: DAL-E4-10)
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Let There Be Light
Outdoor lighting increases the warm, welcoming vibe of your environment. Line your walkway with solar lights, string a few garden lanterns in the trees or install a light post in your front yard to guide guests safely with a shining path. (Item shown: HWR-850113. A great buy at $11.96 – we love the look of the flickering solar candle!)
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Create a Whimsical Windowsill
Want to brighten up a boring window? Try a simple paint touch up and a flower box! Create a vibrant, eye-catching arrangement by selecting a variety of colors, heights and textures for your flower box. For a warm fall look, mix a few small mums with ornamental spiral grass. (Item shown: 026978162403. Less than $6 too!)
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Freshen Up Your Front Door With Color
Farmhouse red, robin’s egg blue, slick midnight black. A pop of color livens up a drab, neutral exterior, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg if you do it yourself. (You can pick up a gallon of paint for around $35.)
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Out With the Old (Hardware), In With the New
It’s all in the details. If your house numbers are dangling by their last thread, it’s time to replace them. The same goes for dingy doorknobs, rusty railings and cob-web ridden porch lights from the ‘90s. (Item shown: HWR-675563. Priced at $13.96, we love the charm of this rustic lantern. )
Give Your Mailbox a Makeover
A mailbox is probably one of the few outdoor items that gets used almost every day, but often gets neglected when it comes to updating. Ozbo carries a wide selection of build-your-own kits, posts and wall-mount mailboxes. (Item shown: HWR-148884)
Show Your Flower Power
We love flowers and envy anyone who lives in a climate where they can be enjoyed year round. (Brrrrr…Northeast PA!) Bright, beautiful flowers stimulate the senses and create that cozy down home feel. From overflowing window boxes to potted arrangements to landscaped beds, seasonal foliage is a must.
Save Your Driveway from Distress
Has your driveway seen better days? A little DIY love goes a long way. Remove weeds in the cracks, scour mold, mildew and stain splotches, apply a fresh coat of sealant, and your driveway will be looking like new. This worthwhile project can be done over a weekend, and you’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make. (Item shown: HWR-669806)
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Add an Eye-catching Element
Simple, yet stylish roll-up blinds deliver beauty and function. Perfect for porches, sunrooms and gazebos, outdoor shades help keep sun-drenched porches cool in warmer months while letting the breeze blow, and act as a shield during colder, windy weather. We love the wood grain look as shown here. If you’re crafty, you can even create your own custom look by stenciling a design in white or color on them! (Item shown: HWR-147809. $19.96 per blind.)
by Megan, Ozbo.com Editorial Director
It’s official – we’re in the home stretch of summer. With the final month of the season usually comes the hottest weather – scorching, sun-drenched days that can quirky turn a thriving garden into a patch of wilting, withered plants.
But you don’t have to trade your marigolds for mums just yet. If your garden has made it through the summer this far, don’t give up now. We’ve put together some simple garden tips on how to ensure your plants make it through the blazing month of August.
DON’T Water Your Plants Everyday >
Garden slackers can breathe a sigh of relief. The key is to water plants less often, but deeper – two to three times a week is ideal. Water your veggies or flowers in the ground by creating a large pool around the base. Here’s the catch: Plants in containers typically DO need to be watered every day because the soil dries out faster.
We recommend investing in a water wand or a nozzle that has a gentle shower setting. If you tend to your garden with a standard hose, set the spout at the base of each plant until the water puddles several inches deep before moving on to the next one. When you’re all done, go back and check the soil to ensure it’s thoroughly dampand the water has been absorbed.
DON’T Wet the Leaves >
As mentioned, creating a deep puddle around the base of the plant is most efficient because the water can be fully absorbed into the soil and reach the root. However, if you use a sprinkler system, it’s impossible to avoid getting the leaves wet. Run your sprinkler early in the morning so foliage has plenty of time to dry. If your sprinkler operates on a timer, daybreak is a good time to set it because the leaves are already slicked with dew.
DO Water Early in the AM >
The best time to water is in the morning before the sun’s rays hit their peak. Tending to plants early in the day avoids water from getting too hot on the leaves and helps prevent moisture from evaporating before it’s been fully absorbed. Also if the leaves do get wet, they’ll have enough time to dry out.
If the morning isn’t an option, water your plants early in the evening but before it gets dark. Plant diseases often start when the foliage is damp, and it will take much longer for them to dry without any sunlight.
DO Use Mulch >
Think of mulch as a protective blanket between the dirt and hot sun. Two to three inches of mulch –whether organic or inorganic- will not only help the ground retain moisture after you water, it acts as a shade barrier to cool plants’ roots. Without a layer of mulch, soil gets hotter in the sun – and drier ground means more watering. You can save a trip to the store and create your own organic mulch with pine needles, chopped leaves, straw, lawn clippings, sawdust, or wood/bark chips. Inorganic mulches include gravel, stone, sand and landscape fabrics. (Even laying down a layer of newspaper can help.)
DO Feed Your Plants >
Weekly fertilizing – whether organic, liquid, granular or your own concoction- gives your plants that extra boost which can sometimes make or break them. Many garden experts say that using a seaweed-based fertilizer can actually help reduce stress caused from the heat. Ozbo carries a wide selection of fertilizers from trusted names like Miracle-Gro, Espoma, Dr. Earth and many more.
DON’T Be Afraid of the Shade >
Although plants need sunlight, too much of it can be a bad thing. If you notice your container plants are starting to droop, move them out of direct sunlight for a few hours, especially from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For plants you can’t transport, utilize umbrellas, tarps or plastic sheeting to create shady zones.
DO Be True to Your Own Habits >
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day (or several), or skip out to go on vacation and forget about your plants. We’re all guilty of it! It’s always a good idea to place a plastic or ceramic saucer beneath each container so your plants can retain water and drink all day. Also consider investing in a water globe or plant spike, which insert directly into the soil to continuously water your plant.
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by Christine, Special to Ozbo
If you’re like us, you and your pet are best buds and you wish you could bring them everywhere – including vacation. But before you make spontaneous plans to hit the road with Fluffy or Fido, it’s important to consider many factors as traveling with pets can often be more harmful than harmonious.
According to a study conducted by AAA and Best Western International, 51 percent of pet parents choose to travel with their furbabies. If you’re one of the majority, some of the things to consider include how much time you’ll be able to spend with your pet, and how physically and emotionally stressful travelling will be for him or her. For instance, airline travel can be particularly dangerous, especially if your pet has to be stowed in cargo where temperatures can be extreme and they run the risk of being handled carelessly. The Humane Society advises you to take extra caution if you have a Brachycephalic (pug-nosed) animal, as they’ve been known to experience fatal breathing problems in flight. Pugs, boxers and bulldogs, along with Burmese, Persian and Himalayan cats fall into this category.
In many cases, animals are happier to stay at home and wait for your return. However, if you evaluate all the factors and decide that you and your four-legged friend just can’t be apart, we have a few suggestions to make traveling with your pet safer and easier.
Always keep pets in a carrier when traveling. While it may seem like you’re doing them a favor by allowing them to roam, the safest place for animals is in a carrier secured to the car seat, according to the Humane Society. Despite what you may believe, you should never let your pet stick its head out of the window while the car is moving. Doing this can force cold air into their lungs and debris into their eyes.
Whether your carrier is hard or soft is up to you, just make sure it allows enough room for your pet to stand, turn and lie down, according to American Kennel Club standards. If you’re traveling by plane, be sure the carrier is airline approved as guidelines for pets often vary.
Rest Stop Essentials
During long car rides and road trips, it’s important to make frequent stops so your pet can exercise and eliminate. Always keep animals on a leash and be sure they’re wearing a harness or collar with proper identification. Pick a safe, clean spot for your pet to do its business and always clean up afterwards. We suggest this handy Bags On Board Waste Pick-Up Dispenser and these Refill Bags because they’re small and fit right into your bag or glove compartment.
Most important, NEVER leave your pet alone in a hot car as they run the risk of heat stroke, exhaustion, brain damage or death.
Toys and Treats
Toys and treats can reduce stress levels by keeping your pet entertained, occupied and relaxed. One of our staffers gives her pups Four Paws’ Rough and Rugged Dumbbell to help them pass the time when on the road and claims it’s a challenge for even the toughest chewers.
Line the crate with a blanket or towel from home to make things a little cozier and give your furry pal a sense of comfort. Reward good behavior with treats when you get to your final destination. My Pomeranian, Bruiser, goes nuts for Dingo Treats - they’re one of our best sellers!
Food and Water Dishes
Although you don’t want to feed your pet before right before a long drive or flight, it’s important to keep him or her hydrated and have food accessible once they’re finally able to eat. A hand-held self-watering bowl, such as Petmate’s Le Bistro Waterer, is great when at the park, beach, camping or on road trips. Pack portable food and water bowls for rest stops, hotel stays and long layovers.
Shop Pet Dishes.
Once you have all the essentials, be sure your pet is up to date on its shots and has all of the necessary paperwork for travel, if required. It’s always a smart idea to research hotels ahead of time if possible, since many don’t allow pets or have limited pet friendly space. Thanks to an increase in the amount of people who travel with their pets, there are now sites like Official Pet Hotels, which will find accommodations for you and your furry pal in any city, and Puppy Travel, a pet travel agency that books entire vacations around you and your pet’s needs.
Ready to soak up the sun? We've hand picked our favorite beach basics for more fun in the sand and surf! Sun shelters help you beat the heat, while colorful floats and inflatables let you splash in the waves. Shade-loving umbrellas, folding chairs and beach tables keep you comfy and carefree.
Grab your bag! But first pack these ten essential items.
by Christine, Special to Ozbo
Now that summer is in full swing, the sweltering heat is soon to follow. Soon we’ll be faced with two options: sweat it out in the sun or hide in the air conditioning. We know you want to make the most of the warm weather, so we’ve come up with five creative suggestions to help you beat the heat this summer!
1. START AN ANNUAL WATER OLYMPICS TOURNAMENT
Round up your friends and family for a day of fun-filled competitions you’ll never forget. Choose your teams and get creative! Feature events like a water balloon toss, slip ‘n slide relay, belly flop contest or water gun tag. Break out sprinklers or an inflatable pool to rest up between rounds. Stock your arsenal with water guns, balloons and hoses, and roll out the slip ‘n slide. No matter who wins or loses, everyone will beat the heat!
2. MIST AWAY
Sometimes the heat is unavoidable, but you can lessen its effects by investing in a mister, which offers a quick and refreshing way to cool off without getting soaked. Portable, handheld misters are great for everything from sporting events to concerts to the beach. One of our staff member’s boyfriends raves about his personal misting fan and carries it everywhere he goes. Larger misters, such as the Arizona Outdoor Cobra Misting System, are ideal when you’re sitting in the yard or lounging by the pool. They’re also a hit with our customers who run outdoor businesses such as food trucks, or need to keep outdoor animal areas, like chicken coops, cool.
3. FREEZE YOUR FAVORITE TREATS
When it’s hot out, some things just taste better cold. Try cooling off by freezing some of your favorite treats. Fill your ice trays with strawberries, blueberries, mint or lime for a fun and delicious twist. For ice cubes that double as a treat, grab a melon baller to shape and freeze frozen melon, then pop them into your beverage. Once the drink is gone, you can snack on the melon.
Avoid watery iced coffee by freezing fresh brewed coffee into ice trays and whipping up a batch of java ice cubes. I first had this at a coffee shop in Cape Cod, Mass. Trust me, it works! Not only does it prevent watered-down coffee but as the cubes melt, your cup fills with even more caffeine. It’s a win-win.
For a more traditional treat, try making homemade slushees with the Slushee Magic Cup, which turns any drink into a frothy, ice crunchy-filled delight within seconds.
I found this great recipe for Blackberry Ice Cubes on the food blog Spoon Fork Bacon:
Ingredients (serves 6-8):
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 cup blackberries
- Pour sugar and water into small pot. Stir and simmer over medium-heat until sugar dissolves
- Remove from heat. Add blackberries and muddle ingredients together
- Allow mixture to cool completely
- Pour mixture into ice tray and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving
4. HAVE A DRIVEWAY CAR WASH
Entrepreneurs can capitalize on the heat while cooling off and having fun with a driveway car wash. Car washes allow you to work as a team, help others and make a profit. Treat yourself to something special after a hard day’s work, or give the money to a worthy cause. All you’ll need is a hose with a powerful jet spray nozzle, specialty soap, a few sponges and wax, and you’re ready for business!
5. MAKE YOUR OWN ICE CREAM
If creamy treats are more your taste, try making your own homemade ice cream (which is not only delicious, you get to stay in the comfort of your air-conditioned kitchen)! Grab the kids for a fun, family activity. When dessert is ready to be served, take your treat outside to enjoy it in the sunshine. Once you find a recipe, some of the items you’ll need include an: ice cream maker, ice cream mix, ice cream salt and scoop.
by Megan, Ozbo Editorial Director
With warmer weather comes flea season – and along with it, your poor pet scratching, itching and biting. Flea problems can spiral out of control fast, not to mention make your whole household miserable. Fortunately there’s a myriad of treatment options available to choose from to help you blast the creepy crawling buggers. Read on to see which option is the best for your four-legged friend.
NOTE – Always read labels in their entirety, and beware that most products can’t be used on young kittens or puppies due to the harshness of certain contained chemicals.
Topicals are excellent for pro-active and preventative flea treatment. Typically a gel or oil-based liquid that’s applied once a month, some people believe this is the best method for keeping fleas off your pet. Often it’s the most expensive method as well, especially products that kill flea and tick adult, larvae and eggs. Topicals are easy to use and are applied directly to your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. Brands like Advantage, Frontline, Sentry and Zodiac are some of the more popular names. Topical treatments are cat and dog specific so NEVER try to cross-apply. Also NEVER use a product that contains permethrin on your cat as it can be lethal.
Flea collars are a good option for dogs or cats that are not completely infested. There are two types: repelling and treating. Although not as popular as topical treatments, the pros are they cost much less and usually last longer. The con is your pet isn’t getting allover coverage as the treated area is localized to the neck and head. Make sure the collar properly fits around your pet’s neck (you should be able to slide two fingers beneath it), and to make sure to trim any excess so they can’t chew on it. AVOID collars with Amitraz, permethrin or organophosphates for cats.
SPRAYS, SHAMPOOS & DIPS
Flea shampoos and sprays provide instant relief for your pet. Though a spray will be are easier to apply (just aim, spritz and rub in) than a dip or shampoo, it offers just a short-term solution. If you’re physically able to coax your pet into the tub, shampoos are a great solution to kill any fleas that are currently on your pet, but few have residual results. Dips, on the other hand last a little longer, some working for up to two weeks. Again, READ the labels and AVOID toxic permethrins for cats.
The flea comb is often overlooked, but I swear by mine as a pre-treatment for my three cats. Often you can’t see fleas buried in the fur (especially dark or long fur), and a comb will let you can get an idea of the infestation. Once fleas are trapped in the teeth, dip the comb into a glass of soapy water and the fleas will drown. The downside is that this process takes a while, and there’s no way you can remove all the fleas if your cat is even mildly infested.
No matter which route you choose to take, be sure to treat your environment as well to completely get the infestation under control. Regular vacuuming is key, as it can remove up to 50 percent of flea eggs. Home foggers or bombs are excellent for major problems, just be sure to follow the instructions exactly and remove all pets from your home as instructed. Steam cleaning furniture and upholstery is a good idea, and regular washing of pet bedding is a must.
*** THE PROPER WAY TO REMOVE A TICK ***
If you find a tick on your dog or cat, don’t panic. The goal is to get the entire tick out without squeezing the body, leaving parts of it embedded in your pet or any harmful bacteria in the bloodstream.
1.) Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick at the exact point where it meets the skin. Do NOT grab it by the body.
2.) Once you have it a firm grip, pull firmly outward in one steady motion.
3.) Once removed, place the tick in a container filled with alcohol to kill it.
4.) Clean the wound with a skin disinfectant and apply a healing ointment.